Even in Chicago, it#039;s a small world after all

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Hello from the Windy City! I am writing my column this week from atop the Hyatt Hotel in Chicago where I have been attending the annual meeting of the American Bar Association since last Thursday.

This is a &uot;lawyer trip&uot; I take each year. The American Bar Association (the ABA, as we call it) is the accrediting agency for all American law schools. The school where I work, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in Montgomery, has applied for accreditation, so it is especially important that I &uot;be seen&uot; at this meeting this year.

Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, yet it can still epitomize the saying &uot;this is a small world&uot; in which we live. I forgot an item I needed for my trip so I went into a Walgreen's located next door to my hotel on the busiest street in downtown Chicago. The lady at the checkout counter saw my ABA name badge which said I was from Alabama and she proceeded to tell me her daughter was an Alabama State Trooper serving the Montgomery district.

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I went to dinner Saturday evening at a very popular Chicago restaurant and my waiter said his brother waited tables at an upscale restaurant in the Highland Avenue section of Birmingham.

The pace of meetings is very fast and time consuming, but after church on Sunday I did get a little personal recreational time. I took advantage of this to go to a local professional baseball game. My cab driver told me his brother lived in Hartford, Alabama.

Many of you have had similar experiences, all of which just reinforces the saying that it is truly a small world.

It is a little refreshing to be away from the state political activities, albeit for just a few days. My energies have been concentrated on the application of the law rather than making the law. I feel very fortunate to be in a position to participate in both.

And yet it is almost impossible to separate the two. For example, one of the major agenda items for the Judicial Section of the ABA is whether or not to recommend that all judges be selected by a means other than popular vote of the people.

This is an issue that has been the subject of proposed legislation in Alabama for at least the past 10 years. There are valid arguments for both sides. Many feel that to be objective the judges should be appointed or selected by other than popular vote through the political party system.

Others feel judges lose their accountability to the average citizen if they are not selected by those whom they must &uot;judge.&uot; I can see both sides and admit that it is a tough call. Maybe one compromise would be non-partisan election of judges. Let me here your thoughts on that proposal.

Another ABA topic is that of &uot;client disclosure.&uot; Presently no lawyer is permitted to reveal anything told to him or her in a lawyer-client relationship, unless it is information leading to the possible death or endangerment of a human being.

The ABA has under discussion changing the Code of Ethics to extend that permissible disclosure to fraud and other crimes. The opponents of the changes argue that this can lead to a client not being able to trust his lawyer. I am not sure what the final outcome will be.

In any event, it has been an interesting four days. Chicago is an interesting and cultural city. One can learn a lot of history here. One can also confirm how great it is to live in the South and particularly Alabama. In other words, Chicago is a great place to visit but I would not want to live there.

Until next time, remember, &uot;I'll go with you or I'll go for you&uot; to help you solve any problem related to state government.